Monday, July 20, 2009
I have been blessed with the ability to read and ride. Others may have suffered from motion sickness, but whether from luck or pure motivation, I have never felt any of the adverse effects of car sickness. In fact, I could read while turned backwards if the need arose.
During my fourth and fifth grade year, our family moved from Florence, Alabama, our hometown, to Columbia, Tennessee, a little more than an hour away. I can clearly remember making the ride with my family while reading one of the Pippi Longstocking books. I recall reading so late that I had to hold the book close to the window and read from streetlight to streetlight. I believe I was reading Pippi Goes on Board; I do know that something happened involving her father, making me grateful for the darkness which hid my tears.
In my adult life, I'm fortunate to have a husband who doesn't mind driving. When I read as we ride, I can usually multitask enough to carry on a conversation, dole out Krystal burgers, and operate the CD player or iPod. I am at least better company reading than sleeping.
This past weekend, we traveled back to Florence from North Carolina for a family reunion of my mother-in-law's family. We had last spent time with this group eleven years ago, just a couple of months before her death. Because of the talents and vast storehouse of memories of the different generations, we shared stories and photographs, as well as slideshows and CDs. In more of the one-on-one conversations, I found that the conversations often turned to my favorite: What are you reading?
This week I read Carlos Ruiz Zafon's new novel The Angel's Game. Like his early novel, Shadow of the Wind, this book was set in Barcelona. The Cemetery of Lost Books, introduced in Shadow, also made an appearance in this book, but otherwise the the plots didn't intertwine. As Zafon moves his characters through the city, as well as on a couple of journeys away from the city, I was reminded how clearly he establishes his settings. Although much of his earlier plot has escaped me, I can still conjure up specific places in the book. I suspect the same will be true of The Angel's Game. He does create a protagonist I loved, David Martin, and an evil antagonist. The woman David loves is tragic and intriguing, but my favorite character, the other woman he loved was perhaps my favorite character.
Martin becomes a writer because of the encouragement of several individuals, one a bookseller, and another a wealthy man with whom David has a complicated relationship. Martin is encouraged to help a young aspiring woman to learn to write by allowing her to work as his assistant. He becomes a mentor and a friend under some of the most challenging circumstances.
I already know I will pass this book along, just as surely as I know I will read this book again. Zafon using elements of mystery and magical realism to weave a story that never ties up into a neat finished package. Last night, though, making my way back home, riding shotgun and entertaining my two grandchildren who rode in the backseat, the closer I came to the end of the book, the more I hoped for enough remaining daylight to reach the end. I made it.